Charlie's view on the Play-Off final...
Leeds United fan Charlie Ibbotson, 14, was at Wembley last week to report on the Coca-Cola League 1 Play-Off Final for The Football League website, having won the trip as part of The Football League's Junior Reporter competition after winning our own competition earlier in the season.
His great match report of Millwall's victory over Swindon Town is now on The Football League website and here is account of his special day at Wembley, including meeting Simon Grayson!
My Day At Wembley
By Charlie Ibbotson, 14
Last weekend I visited Wembley Stadium to watch the League 1 play-off final between Millwall and Swindon Town, as part of my winning prize for the Football League's junior reporter competition.
I began the day with a look inside the team changing rooms. It was amazing to think the players would be changing in here less than an hour later. The changing facilities were top drawer with massaging tables, deluxe shower and bath equipment and even an indoor warm-up room where the players could have a kick around before the game. In the changing room and warm-up room, every player's kit and boots were laid out ready for the game.
After walking out through the players' tunnel, I was then taken pitch-side to see the location of the cameras and the microphones, and then behind the scenes to the nerve centre of the Sky Sports operation - two large lorries in the underground car park. From the outside the only clue there was more going on was the amount of cables and wires coming from the vans.
On the inside, it was a different story. Experts of all kinds controlling all the cameras shots and the sounds and the replays. It was really surprising to see just how much work and effort has to be put into producing a good live broadcast of the game for the TV viewers at home. Inside the vans I was shown how all the equipment operates and I was very interested to see how they make sure viewers can hear the sound of the ball by reducing the crowd noise, but also how they can increase the sound of the fans if they want to add to the atmosphere!
Then came one of the highlights of my day. Simon Grayson was at Wembley as one of the pundits, alongside Peter Beagrie, in the half-time analysis and commentary box. I had the privilege of getting an autograph and a picture with the Leeds gaffer and that will always be a special memory of mine, being a Leeds United supporter.
After seeing how the pundits' studio worked, we moved back to the players' tunnel area where I conducted a short presentation into camera as the introduction for an interview with the winning manager after the game. I learnt that speaking into camera is more nerve-wracking than it seems!
I then had a pitch-side photo from a professional photographer. By this time, the atmosphere around Wembley was beginning to build with fans filing into the stands waiting for kick off, so it was incredible to be out there on the pitch. I was then taken up to the press area where I had a nice lunch alongside all the different types of journalists - TV, radio and print - then I took my place in the press area to watch the game.
The press tables were all equipped with a television showing the game 5 seconds back, in case you missed any important action. At the half way mark, I met Maneesh from the Football League Show, as well as Leroy Rosenior and Mark Clemmit who all gave me some useful tips to help me on my reporting career.
The game itself was a tense encounter with Millwall coming out on top and winning 1-0. I enjoyed the match thoroughly, even though it wasn't the best final Wembley has seen.
Next it was the post-match press conference as both the winning manager Kenny Jackett and the losing manager Danny Wilson had questions hurtled at them from the press. It was interesting to see how they dealt with the questions and how they responded. I then got the opportunity to interview some of the Millwall players before they left the stadium. I spoke to goal-scoring legend Neil Harris, Captain Paul Robinson and Winger Danny Schofield. Paul Robinson even let me hold the trophy!
There was one final treat as I had the chance to see the crossbar that played a part in England's 1966 world cup victory.
It was a fantastic experience and my thanks go to the Football League for allowing me to have such an incredible and memorable day and for everyone who took time out to speak to me. Everyone was so helpful and I learnt so much. Special thanks go to Andy Dodd who looked after me all day.
To read Charlie's fantastic match report click here.
The Junior Reporter competition forms part of The Football League's 'Fans of the Future' campaign which aims to attract more young fans and families to watch live football and start a lifelong passion for the game.